Wikimedia Foundation Chief Executive Officer/May 2016 office hours/Video-based session notes

Video-based session recording

Notes from the May 11/12 video-based office hours session with interim Executive Director, Katherine Maher edit

Etherpad edit

Information edit

  • Time and date: Thursday, 12 May 2016 - 00:00-01:00 UTC | Wednesday, 11 May 2016 - 17:00-18:00 PDT

Links edit

WMF Staff present edit

Questions to ask via Etherpad / IRC / Blue Jeans (feel free to add) edit

Etherpad – May 2016 WMF ED Office Hours
  1. What were the key learnings/observations at Wikimedia Conference?
    • Wikimedia Conference was great opportunity for WMF and affiliates to talk as equals/peers and talk about how last several months impacted them
    • Strong desire by affiliates to engage in future strategy around the movement
    • Strategy developed was around WMF and not necessarily movement-wide
      • With a way for affiliates and community to have input/drive
    • WMF is one part within ecosystem - and that is increasingly felt within WMF - need to learn and collaborate more with affiliates and others in community
    • Discussion around providing more time and ways to give feedback for annual plan and strategy
    • Takeaway was around importance of relationships with members of community and WMF folks
  2. Are there any plans to focus some resources on some of the less-popular sister projects?
    • We are hearing from our teams a great desire to integrate engineering work with community engagement work - focused on readers vs. overall community
    • Part of that will be looking at the sister projects and thinking about how to allocate resources to that
    • Two obvious examples:
      1. Wikidata - talking with Wikimedia Deutschland about how to best continue supporting
      2. Wikimedia Commons - improvements on making content more accessible
    • Conversations around how Wikidata and Wiktionary can better integrate
    • Not yet commitments, but conversations around Wikisource, and ways to help develop that project and its community
    • How to do things that support multiple projects and work into our roadmap
    • Example: Building out Maps - began with Wikivoyage and will eventually make way to other projects
  3. I haven't seen much on long-term technical/mediawiki strategy in a while. Is that being worked on/planned?
    • There are questions out there around long-term thinking around MediaWiki and product architecture
    • Taking a look at service architecture - should we be moving towards a service based architecture to support greater wide of features and platforms
    • Questions around core remain outstanding and expecting that CTO will be valuable addition to those ongoing conversations
    • As conversations continue, some may be prolonged as CTO search happens
    • RobLa-WMF: A lot of what we are doing now is same sort of development we've done for years; we discuss how things should be put together on our mailing lists out in the community.
    • Katherine asks RobLa about why people may feel there is a lack of a "long-term technical strategy"; is it because people don't know where the conversation is happening?
  4. Question: do we have a solid understanding of whether or not Wikipedia is growing or shrinking?
    • Hard to assess as there are a few considerations
    • Overall, yes, Wikipedia is growing
      • New languages have emerged
      • Number of articles/content continues to expand
      • Moved to new means of measuring readership
        • Shifted from Comscore
      • Data moving forward will be comparable to better inform
        • For example: Unique page views may be declining, but unique devices is not
      • Recent Knight Foundation study shows that Wikipedia is used more on mobile than almost any other sites
    • Size and diversity of languages is growing
    • Readership growth is not yet clear as we are working from new data - but initial trends and data show health
    • Editor community has stabilized
      • Working to increase impact and diversity of editor community
  5. Question from IRC: I take it from the draft annual plan that the WMF are planning to raise 63m USD next fiscal year, which is significantly lower than the 72m USD actually raised in "donations and contributions" in 2015. Do you think we have reached a peak in terms of fundraising, or was last year unexpectedly successful? Or are you trying to keep fundraising lower on purpose, e.g. to avoid lengthy banner campaigns? Any thoughts on that?
    • Average donation via banner is around $15
    • Average donation via mobile is around $5
    • Average donation via email is around $30
    • We are seeing changes in how people are engaging in our fundraising
      • Some of this comes from trends seen across the Internet - such as increased use of mobile
    • We may not have hit our peak - but are also looking at what size should we be to do our work most effectively?
    • Traditionally, we often budget income conservatively to be responsibile and not budgetting for things we may not have funds to support
      • Last year projected for US$65m revenue and coming in closer to US$70m
    • Taking conservative approach to assessments until we have a better understanding of changes in trends
    • Banners are one of the few times we have to convey that we are a nonprofit movement, and we hear in feedback from donors that they did not know that until they saw banners
    • Balance between using banners to educate new donors and readers about how we work - and trying not to be intrusive with readers/editors
    • Seddon: There is an effort to understand the changes in balance
    • Also looking into how the endowment - which will take many years to build - should be developed and may impact fundraising several years down the road
  6. Question from Seddon: Your background is from multinational organizations, be it for-profit or non-profit, how does that influence your view of the affiliates in comparison to your predecessors?"
    • Cannot speak for predecessors
    • Affiliates represent tremendous opportunity for us to expand to more people
    • In past role in WMF Communications, spent a lot of time working with affiliates on how to reflect our campaigns and messaging in local communities
      • In SF, we do not know how something like WP15 birthday party will be done in Nigeria (as an example)
    • Thinking about what affiliates have to offer that can strengthen the movement's connection with potential members and advocates
      • In ways that make reference to their own culture and languages
    • Looking forward to working with affiliates, thrilled to be at WikiCon and meet with EDs of staffed affiliates to learn what they are doing
      • Made committment to join regular affiliate EDs call
    • At end of day, we are all here to support the movement
      • A lot we can learn from affiliates and how they suppor their communities and challenges that they have faced
    • Also will be interested in what AffCom has to say
  • Note: Any remaining comments on Blue Jeans will be collected and addressed after the office hours

Questions from the room edit

  1. How are we doing the ED search differently this time compared with last time
    • Hard for Katherine to answer as she is not on committee
    • However, there have been efforts to seek input (including a session held at Wikimedia Conference) on how to learn from the past
    • Conversations also happening with staff
    • Community will have input on job description
    • Above equals more consultation in early stages
    • Process itself will be similar to most executive searches with a firm
      • Firm will work to identify finalists
    • Working to find ways to engage people while respecting confidentiality of candidates
    • Katherine is confident in search committee, but does not yet have specifics on how it will be run
  2. When will we be stocking Club Mate in the WMF Office
    • Sounds like it is hard to get in US
    • Strongly encourage people to open ticket with facilities team to look into

Opening remarks edit

  • Many updates provided in metrics meetings
WMF Metrics and activities meetings/2016-01

Five priorities of Interim Executive Director edit

1 Recruitment of new Executive Director edit
  • Search committee has been set up
  • External firm selected
  • Job description being developed and will then be shared with community for feedback
2 Recruitment of key C-Level roles edit
  • Roles to fill:
    • CTO
    • VP of Talent & Culture
      • Chief of Community Engagement (CCE)
  • Holding "good" searches vs. "urgent" searches
  • CTO process is underway - target for making offer is July 2016
  • Other searches will start after Wikimania
    • First: VP of Talent & Culture
    • Then: Chief of Community Engagement (CCE)
3 Finalizing strategy edit
  • Available on Meta-Wiki
  • New ED will be able to work from strategy to initiate next planning process as they get to know the organization
  • Community consultation in the future aims to be more inclusive
4 Finalizing annual plan edit
Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2016-2017/draft
  • Currently under review by FDC
  • Reviewed comments in about 42 areas from around 20 people on Meta-Wiki
  • Making updates based on feedback
  • Feedback from FDC expected next week
  • Budget for upcoming year is US$2m less than past year
  • Staff count is 3 less than last year
  • Strategic work and programmatic work are the two areas WMF work is divided into
  • Getting to Board for approval by end of June - ideally by Wikimania
5 Addressing office culture issues edit
  • Staff engagement survey ran in Sept 2015, another survey being run with results in early June
Community Engagement Survey
  • Working to assess where organizaiton is now in comparison to September
  • Working to implement improvements to areas identified in past survey
  • Working to improve internal communications and creation of safe spaces to address issues early
  • Working on providing tools to help teams manage and assess performance
  • Leadership team working to increase internal awareness of their activities and strategy
  • Interim Executive Director making effort (through things like this) to be more available and ready to answer questions along the way and inform about strategy/plans

Blue Jeans chat log edit


  • is there a link to the community engagement survey?


  • /me pokes greg


  • sorry - didn't see that here until I saw it in IRC


  • wasn't sure which channel was easiest. thanks for the answer. much appreciated!



  • Question: do we have a solid understanding of whether or not Wikipedia is growing or shrinking?


  • That question is next - thank you


  • Sounds like we don't.    I'd very much like to see WMF characterize this aspect in a clear way that can inform communities for Wikipedias on how that can adapt to better serve their users.


  • What does CCE mean?


  • Chief of Community Engagement


  • thx


  • I agree that our use/presence seems to be increasing, but that's without any clear data on my part.  We seem to be more embedded in everything, and that aspect is growing.
  • Yes.  I agree.  Thank you, Katherine.
  • One thing that I'm curious about is if WMF could replace ads entirely and form a community directed practice of funding individual efforts that is traceable, verifiable, and directly enhances contributions in addition to funding the existence of Wikipedia.
  • I think the ideal message would be:  All of corporations who profit from your data pays for Wikipedia, and we make sure the funds are accounted for.
  • Thank you.

IRC log edit

[4:49pm] varnent: We will be starting video-based office hours with interim ED in about 10 minutes:

[4:51pm] varnent: You can join us and ask questions during the session via Blue Jeans:

[4:51pm] varnent: The session will also be available for streaming on YouTube:

[4:52pm] varnent: Etherpad that has been setup for notes:

[5:07pm] foks: Please ask questions!

[5:07pm] brendan_campbell: hey all, i'm the AV tech here at WMF. please feel free to ping me if you have any technical questions about Blue Jeans

[5:12pm] YairRand: (is this session focused primarily on wmf internal issues, or is it more general?)

[5:12pm] foks: YairRand, it's very open

[5:13pm] foks: feel free to ask questions and they will be passed on

[5:18pm] BrillLyle: is there a link to the community engagement survey?

[5:18pm] YairRand: Are there any plans to focus some resources on some of the less-popular sister projects?

[5:19pm] varnent: BrillLyle: for clarity - it was a staff engagement survey [5:19pm] varnent: if someone can track down the link on Commons to the Metrics when it was presented - that would be great

[5:21pm] Zack_: YairRand, your question is next

[5:21pm] Zack_: any specific projects you mean here?

[5:21pm] foks: BrillLyle,

[5:21pm] varnent: foks: thank you!

[5:21pm] foks: I think that was the Metrics presentation.

[5:21pm] foks: The recording is linked to from here:

[5:21pm] BrillLyle: thanks!!!

[5:21pm] foks: No worries

[5:30pm] varnent: brendan_campbell: from Etherpad:  Comment: if you could put the IRC / Etherpad links in the caption of the youtube video, that'd be good. I had to ask privately to find it.

[5:30pm] foks: brendan_campbell, could you put the --

[5:30pm] foks:

[5:30pm] brendan_campbell: varnent: will do

[5:30pm] foks: Any further questions?

[5:30pm] YairRand: Thank you.

[5:31pm] Bsadowski1 joined the chat room.

[5:31pm] Vedmaka left the chat room. (Quit: Vedmaka)

[5:32pm] Wittylama: there was a 'key learnings' earlier on - DRINK!

[5:34pm] Zack_: I might ask an entirely self-serving question about Club Mate

[5:34pm] Zack_: fair warning

[5:36pm] Wittylama:

[5:37pm] mutante:

[5:37pm] Wittylama: "moving forward" - drink!

[5:37pm] mutante:

[5:38pm] heatherw: Haha, I just send that to Zack.

[5:40pm] varnent: we lost the room

[5:40pm] foks: brendan_campbell, we dropped

[5:40pm] foks: or the room did

[5:40pm] Bsadowski1: Seddon

[5:41pm] Zack_: we are rebooting

[5:41pm] Bsadowski1: Really

[5:41pm] Bsadowski1: Ah I see.

[5:41pm] Zack_: apologies all

[5:41pm] srrodlund joined the chat room.

[5:41pm] Zack_: we should be back in a moment here

[5:41pm] Bsadowski1: Wikimedia Entertainment Foundation

[5:41pm] Bsadowski1: ?

[5:42pm] varnent: ?

[5:42pm] varnent: room is back

[5:42pm] Bsadowski1: Oh yay

[5:42pm] Wittylama: that was a lovely interlude of Seddon.

[5:42pm] foks: I hope everyone enjoyed that interlude

[5:42pm] foks: I didn't know Seddon could SING

[5:43pm] Wittylama: AND dance!

[5:43pm] foks: A shame nobody in the office could see.

[5:44pm] Zack_: (I am disappointed...)

[5:45pm] foks: Hello, Risker!

[5:45pm] • Risker waves from the airport

[5:45pm] robla: the meeting I was referring to earlier:

[5:45pm] Wittylama: hi /risker

[5:45pm] Risker: see you tomorrow, Wittylama

[5:45pm] XenoRyet joined the chat room.

[5:46pm] foks: ha

[5:46pm] pajz: I take it from the annual plan that the WMF are planning to raise 63m USD next fiscal year, which is significantly lower than the 72m USD actually raised in "donations and contributions" in 2015. Do you think we have reached a peak in terms of fundraising, or was last year unexpectedly successful? Or are you trying to keep fundraising lower on purpose, e.g. to avoid lengthy banner campaigns? Any thoughts on that?

[5:46pm] Wittylama: See you soon Risker! Currently 2:45am here, but I'm considering this FDC research

[5:46pm] Risker: heh

[5:46pm] heatherw: whoah

[5:47pm] foks: pajz, I have added that to the etherpad - thanks

[5:49pm] pajz: foks, thanks.

[5:51pm] foks: The etherpad is here:

[5:51pm] foks: (fwiw)

[5:52pm] YairRand: (correction: pajz's question said "significantly lower", not "slightly lower")

[5:53pm] foks: I just cut and paste it

[5:53pm] Zack_: Apologies for that Pajz. Good flag YairRand.

[5:53pm] foks: Oh, right, I see

[5:53pm] pajz: np

[5:57pm] YairRand: ( there a lot of lag in the youtube stream? I'm noticing some of the etherpad notes popping up before they're "said".)

[5:58pm] brendan_campbell: YairRand: yes, the lag usually ranges from 20-60 seconds

[5:58pm] heatherw: Sometimes there is.

[6:00pm] foks: varnent, Zack_, FYI, there are thoughts in the BlueJeans chat as well

[6:00pm] stuwest is now known as stuwest-away.

[6:00pm] varnent: foks: yup - since they are feedback more than questions - and we are out of time already - we are passing along to KM

[6:00pm] foks: OK

[6:02pm] pajz: Thanks for the response.

[6:06pm] MaxSem left the chat room. (Quit: This computer has gone to sleep)

[6:07pm] tgr is now known as tgr|away.

[6:08pm] Zack_: Thanks y'all

[6:08pm] Wittylama: more conversational

[6:08pm] • aude waves

[6:09pm] aude: thanks katherine

[6:09pm] BrillLyle left the chat room. (Quit: Page closed)

[6:09pm] Wittylama: Thanks KM!

[6:09pm] • krmaher waves back!

[6:09pm] krmaher: thanks wittylama for hanging out, despite it being the middle of the night!